Saturday, December 31, 2011
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Well, if I could blame this past weekend on a man in a red suit with a long white beard, I would say that I must have made Santa's naughty list bigtime. Fortunately, I know that all events are orchestrated for a higher purpose...to sanctify me and glorify God in heaven. So here's a recap:
Christmas Eve was a blessing. We spent it with some friends from Bible Study. The kids were amazingly well-behaved which was an answer to some desperate prayers from this worn out mom. We had a great lunch, watched a movie, played with friends, and did a gift exchange.
Christmas Eve night, my internet went out while skyping with Darren and the Edwards family back home. Bummer. Christmas Eve our neighbors behind us had some kind of shin-dig complete with fireworks and very loud music. Great. Went on until midnight. Christmas morning my internet was still not back. The kids opened their presents and we started to clean the house for lunch. I was supposed to be having very important last minute guests who flaked an hour after they were supposed to be here. I had spent Christmas Eve working it out with a friend to have enough food as having guests was a pretty last minute decision. She gave me a chicken from her freezer so that I would have enough meat...only to realize the next day that I had prepared WAY too much food for myself and 2 toddlers. However, I decided that we would have a joyful day celebrating in the Savior's birth anyway. It was very hot and didn't feel like Christmas. I read a book while the kids played outside for a good part of the day.
So when Darren was awake and opening his Christmas gifts (5 p.m. my time) I missed his first call and when we could finally talk my phone kept cutting out. The kids suddenly started misbehaving and after wanting to cry all day I finally did. I just kept wondering "why?" I know my life could be SO. MUCH. HARDER. But I couldn't understand why after everything else that seems to be going wrong God would take away my "lifelines" back home. The things that help me retain my sanity over here...on CHRISTMAS!!! Then as if smacking me in the face it was like He was saying, "So that I can be your lifeline!" Commence breakdown and intense time of prayer.
So Monday we went out to the orphanage. Monday was FILLED to the brim with it's challenges as well. Finally, Monday night I was able to get some good sleep. By Tuesday morning my skype was back but my web pages weren't loading. Finally last night, my internet was back completely and I felt so blessed to see all the sweet e-mails and messages waiting for me. It felt like being underwater and then coming up for that awesome breath of air. Most of all, it was nice to talk to my husband via skype again. Have I told you that I miss him?
We had friends over for pizza and swimming yesterday. Again, it was super refreshing just to have some company and kids for my kids to play with.
I have really mixed emotions about this Christmas. I relished in the simplicity of it. The rampant idea of American consumerism that permeates our lives back home can really cloud the true joys of Christmas. I was able to see and experience those deeper joys even though I had a hard time. It is sooooo hard to find that balance, though. Where is the line between enjoying the gifts God has blessed us with and giving our "children good gifts" in reflection of our father in heaven VS. teaching our children that Christmas is about what we get and buying people things they don't need just to keep up?
I used to think that the only people who would question a good, typical, American Christmas were the same people that only wear ankle length dresses and no make up and believe that TV's were invented in hell. I always figured those people drew some kind of strange happiness from giving up being normal and appearing better than the rest of us.
I have to say, though, that my heart has undergone some radical changes in how I view Christmas. I'm not saying I've got it figured out and I certainly would not try to tell anyone else how to run their Christmas festivities, but ya'll there are people around the world in actual REAL need. Don't you think it's a little wrong that people have been TRAMPLED to death fighting to shop for Christmas gifts they and the ricipients don't need? I'm not saying I'm giving up Christmas traditions or gifts or any of the things that I actually MISSED not having this Christmas. I'm just saying...look around. Don't you think we just get a bit silly sometimes? We tend to drive ourselves crazy spending money on gifts we had to rack our brains over because we can't really think of anything that person "needs" right now, rushing from this party to that party, buying clothes to wear to the parties, taking our kids here there and everywhere so they don't "miss" out on anything only to breathe a sigh of relief and say "Whoa...I'm glad December's over. Now I need to go on a diet because I ate too much." And I've talked to so many people with "Christmas guilt". They want to do things differently, but it's hard to break the patterns you were raised in (plus what would our families think if we put a limit on incoming gifts to our kids. Would they think we are ungrateful?) and so they just keep doing what they've always done and the season keeps them so busy it's hard to focus on what's important. I also think it's possible to be "too hard" on yourself or other people. As Americans, there are so many ways we are all greedy consumers from time to time. I believe in enjoying our blessings from heaven and I also believe that we should be teaching our children life values (the Christmas stories, sharing with others, not loving money) all 12 months of the year so if we're weak in this month of the year, we should look to Christ for strength and guidance and not become consumed with guilt. I think our decisions about how we spend, give, or save should be made with passion AND humility. I just think we all need to evaluate WHY we do what we do in light of the Bible and pray for peace in our decisions.
I haven't all the way decided in what ways I'd like our Christmas holiday season to look different next year, but I will definately be praying and discussing with Darren about ways to glorify God more in the way we celebrate. I want my children to see the "giving" part of Christmas first in terms of God's gift to us in his Son, secondly in our gifts to the world (sharing the Gospel, tangible acts of kindness and monetary giving), thirdly, giving gifts to our loved ones, and LASTLY our giving of gifts to them. I don't want them to have "my toys" centered Christmases. Do you guys have any suggestions on how to simplify and most of all how to serve God and others during this time?
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Had some dear moms over for a pizza/swim party on Tuesday. It was a blessing to have some adult conversation while our kids played together. I felt recharged!
I'm so thankful for the internet! We've been able to even video skype a few times with friends and family. Evolet loves to skype with Darren. Sometimes we can only do audio, but it's so awesome to be able to talk for "free". I really miss him. Christmas feels different over here for sure, but it's also a neat experience to know that all around the world, Christians are celebrating the birth of our savior! I'm not going to pretend that it's not hard having my family split at this time of year. I wish we could all be together, but there is joy in knowing that this is God's plan for our family this year.
I think once January gets here it will start to feel like things are coming to close. This middle part has been rough, but I can see the finish line nearing with each day. Keep praying for us!
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Sometimes there are basic communication issues with Evolet. She speaks English, but it's definately a different form of English than I'm used to. She phrases most of questions backwards and always ends with "ka?" which means like, "yes?" so she expects an affirmative for everything she says. Even if you say "yes, Evolet that's right" she'll ask like 3 more times. Plus, culturally it is kind of impolite to say "no" so she answers "yes" to every question. I'll say, "Do you know where you put your shoes?" She'll answer "yes" and just stand there. When I say "OK, then can you go get them?" She just stands there and I realize that she in fact has no idea where they are. This scenario plays out several times a day and can be quite frustrating to an American Momma expecially when Josie's trying to be heard at the same time.
I'm telling these events of the day not to make my children look bad (because they are very precious gifts from above) or to talk about how tough I have it over here. We have alot of fun together and the girls get along pretty well most of the time. I'm praising God daily that Evolet is adjusting so well...and she's very very obedient as long as she understand what's expected of her. I'm only saying this to convey that adoption has it's struggles even for those of us who would say we are having an "easier" time of it than expected by adoption standards. Parenting is tough stuff some days whether your children are adopted or not!
Wanted to mention a prayer request. A friend here contacted me yesterday about a baby who was found abandoned near a hospital. A shop owner found this newborn baby girl and took her to the hospital. They were looking for a family to take her. For many many reasons we decided we are not that family, but are praying that she will find a loving home soon. There are so many stories of children abandoned here. It breaks my heart.
Also praying for our "Keira Jane". Things continue to look positive and we are hoping to know something more by this evening. We would love this "additional addition" to our family, but we know that God is all wise and will give our family what we need. We are open and willing to take her and be her forever family, but we are satisified with the joy Evolet has brought us too.
Thank you all for your prayers and daily encouragement to me. Can't wait to be back home!
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
Today was a great day! We did a little shopping, jumped on the trampoline ALOT, swam in the pool, read a bazillion books, spent massive amounts of time on Evolet's hair (even though she doesn't have much...moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!) I have to say, even after 3 days it's looking WAY better.
So both of the girls are pretty independent...they both love hugs, but neither of them seem to be "cuddlers". Well...a thunderstorm changes that. At the first sign of lightning they fought for a space on my lap. They literally plastered themselves onto me like cling wrap. The electricity went out for a while so we sang Christmas songs to the light of a flashlight for like 30 minutes. Oh the spiritual parallels that parenting brings to mind! As we sat there I was soooo thankful for this scary situation that caused my children to run to me and find comfort and shelter. I thought, "Why can't they always be this sweet and cuddly!?" (Haven't had too much trouble out of Evolet yet, but she's human so...I'm sure it's coming) DUH...because when things are great they trust in themselves...human nature right!? Oh how I do the same things. I can't help but believe that some of the trials I have faced in Africa have been God's way of sending a little thunder and lightning my way. My insufficiencies here have illuminated sin in my heart I didn't even know was there!!! It has taught me to rely more on Christ's saving grace ALONE for every detail of life...not myself, my husband, my possessions. I've seen people here with NOTHING...they are living impoverished lives, but praising the God of heaven for all that he's done. People here also seem to think more "heavenward". Probably because life is hard and they see death more than we do.
I'm certainly going to enjoy what I'm missing back home (My house, my car, my dishwasher, eating at Chik-fil-A again, having a built in filter and ice maker, people that get to the point and know what the word "time" means), but I've seen what it's like to not have those things and I know that's not what my happiness is built on. What I miss the MOST are my husband and my church family...the relationships that edify me and build me up. The relationships I rely on for encouragement and parenting advice (ya'll have been great to keep in touch even from a distance, though. Thank You!!!!) But I know that even those things can become replacements for what's most important so in the times when I feel the storms rage in my heart, I run to Christ knowing that HE is my "strength and shield"...at least, that's what I tell myself to do. I'll just be honest, though, sometimes I decide to try to accomplish things on my own power and end up quite frustrated. Trying to "count it all joy" to face various trials. I know God's workin!
Nothing else interesting happened today...oh except a clogged pipe that made all the nasty dishwater from who knows how long spill into the entire gravel area outside my window...which Josie sat in, of course. Not a big deal...gave her a bath...got the pipe fixed. The smell eventually died down:)
Thursday, December 15, 2011
We went out for ice cream today! We walked into a shop and a woman said, "Your children are beautiful. Are they both yours?" It made me smile to say, "Yes:)"
Josie is having the expected jealousy issues that I am having to deal with. They both are going through a time of adjusting to each other and to me. As much as possible I try to forsee those cicumstances and be prepared with Biblical pearls of wisdom, but ya know sometimes life just come at you fast! Still, like 90% of the time they are playing SOOO well together...that's just more quiet than the other 10% so that part stays with you a little longer:) Since Evolet is 4 1/2, I decided she can probably forgo the naps. I just put her to bed at 7 when Josie goes down and she sleeps 12 hours. This way, I can have some one-on-one time with her while Josie's napping and that cuts out some of the jealousy. It's a balancing act to reassure Josie that she is loved and adored while assuring Evolet that she has found a family who will love her as much as we love Josie.
Evolet is obviously very used to sleeping around alot of noise. She fell asleep last night with a movie playing and me jerking the braids out of her hair. Tonight she slept through Josie standing on her bed saying "Hey Evolet!" Nighttime rocks!
We made Christmas cookies today. Evolet was excited when we decorated the airplane. I said, "Daddy would like this one." She replied, "I want to decorate this one for Daddy." I showed her pictures of Grandpa and Grandma, more pictures of our house, and some friends back home. I don't want to overwhelm her, but she seems interested to learn about what her new life will be like.
We've been singing Christmas songs and both of my little girls love to dance like silly things to some music:) Last night I lay in bed for a while just thanking the Lord for His goodness and it hit me that I have a 4 1/2 year old. She was born in June 2007. I don't even know what I was doing back then, but ya'll I was 20!!! I was thinking "wow. Josie isn't even 2 yet. I can't imagine if she went to an orphanage tomorrow and learned their routines and then went to live with a new family 2 years after that!" It is truly just God's graciousnss to us that Evolet seems to be adjusting miraculously well. Based on human wisdom, it probably should not be going so well...and as I said, I'm sure there are struggles in the future yet to come, but Praise God for His goodness to me now. I know we have many friends and family members who have been lifting us up in prayer. Thank you...and keep doing it! Pray that we can go home soon. I'm ready to see my husband again:)
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Got the call from my attorney this morning that the committal order was ready to pick up around 10 a.m. Every day for the last like two weeks I've kept the house really clean "just in case" it was that day she came home. Today of course, the house was a mess so I figured that was a good sign:) Even though I've been preparing for this day for like a month, hearing my attorney say "Can you be here in 30 minutes?" made my head spin as I tried to gather the things I needed and pick up toys really fast KNOWING that Evolet was coming home today!
So we got the committal order and took it straight to the orphanage. I brought a change of clothes for Evolet since the clothes she was wearing belong to the orphanage. We chatted with all the kids for a while and made plans to go back to visit on Sunday. Evolet was all smiles!!! Here's a photo of her on the car ride home:
So we got home, had some lunch, put Josie down for a nap. Then Evolet and I watched VeggieTales while I spent 2 hours undoing her braids and I STILL only got half of them done. I want to just leave her hair natural for a little bit...play with it and see what it does.
So when Josie got up, they jumped on the trampoline. Evolet let out the most precious giggle. The trampoline is definately a big hit!!! She also can't wait to go swimming. She's been asking when we are going to fly in an airplane. She and Josie had their first, second, and third fight of sisterhood and parenting has taken on a completely new dimension for me...the peacemaker. I totally have expected this and have prepared by asking lots of questions to parents of mutliples. Game on!
This is going to sound silly because I know there's still SOOOO much adjusting to do, but honestly today felt like a pretty normal day. Evolet just jumped into our "normal" routine of life here pretty well. She was helping me with dishes, calling me "mommy", cuddling with me while we watched TV. She tries to keep Josie out of trouble (good luck:) It's like she really really belongs with us. Praising God for his all-knowing ways. I know there are struggles ahead, but right now I'm enjoying the perfection of it all.
She was excited to skype with Darren. When our internet connection got so bad that it disconnected, she said, "Hey. Put Daddy's face back up!" I know they'll have alot of catching up to do, but Praise God for skype. At least she has a visible live connection with him this way.
Once I finished on her hair (a total of 4 hours and she fell asleep while I was finishing it) she took a bath and went to bed. I hope she doesn't freak out in the morning and she remembers where she is! Maybe she'll also remember that I promised her ice cream tomorrow.:)
We appreciate your prayers on our behalf in our saga of beginning the foster process with Evolet. Please continue in prayer for the 3 year old we are still hoping to adopt. And pray as there is still much paperwork, court date, embassy...more hoops to jump through before returning home. I do feel like the process may be a bit more bearable now, though. Happy 2nd Day of Christmas:)
Friday, December 9, 2011
We went to the orphanage to see Evolet yesterday. It was a joy to see it, and it was so very hard to leave her there again. She asked me, "When are you coming back to take me with you?" I tried not make any promises about Monday since it's obviously not in my power to do so, but assured her that I would be back Monday and hopefully she could come home then. She seems very excited:)
This hilarious conversation was one of the highlights. Keep in mind that the locals here tend to reverse their "L"s and "R"s. So one of the Auntie's at the orphanage asked, "What name are you going to give Hope?" I replied, "Evolet Hope". She said, "Oh nice. Hope, can you say Everett?" I quickly tried to correct and said, "No, not Everett. Ev-o-let." She said, "Yeah. Ev-ER-ett." So then of course Evolet was saying "Everett". I decided that I could work on pronunciation more when she gets home.
So what I had thought would be a busy weekend getting to know my new daughter is now going to probably feel like a very slow weekend. It's been raining all night and all morning so...that may mean Josie and I stay inside most of the day. I have tried to look at this as one last weekend with just me and Josie. I know it will be hard to balance getting to know Evolet and making her feel special while at the same time letting Josie know that she is still very loved and special too. Hopefully we can have some fun "Josie/Mommy" time. On Sunday mornings she helps me make pancakes. That's always fun:)
I can't even explain how painful Darren's absence has been. I mean, I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I didn't think it would be this hard either. After all, I'm a pilot's wife and I'm used to being away from him for SHORT periods of time. Lately my pitiful self spends the evenings watching sappy movies and weeping at the sound of Christmas music wishing we could be together. I really really miss that man.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
I know the picture above has nothing to do with the title of the post, but seeing as how I can't post my Evolet photos yet, this is my outlet for cute Josie pics:)
So far we have had a great and eventful week! Yesterday we were able to tell Evolet that we are adopting her. She was very shocked and didn’t say much. She seemed kind of overwhelmed. I told her I would come back today and talk to her about it some more.
Today was the only day I could get my visa renewed for another 30 days so I got a babysitter for Josie and planned to run some other errands and spend some one on one time with Evolet. When I went today, Evolet ran to me and gave a big hug. She let me hold her as I read the kids some books to calm them all down some. I gave her a zebra pillow pet to cuddle with and a 4x6 photo of Darren, Josie, and I. She never let go of the zebra OR the photo. She was very excited. She even called me “Mommy” and held my hand. I asked the Auntie what size shoe she thought Evolet wore. She said, “Why don’t you take me and her to the store with you and she can try on some shoes!!!” So we all went shopping and had the best time. I bought Evolet some CUTE silver dressy shoes to match her Christmas dress. She really liked them. She told me that purple is her favorite color, but she likes other colors too:)
Since it is Tuesday, we went to the Pizza Inn and got buy one get one free pizzas with Grape Fanta. Evolet said she loves pizza so I think we’ll get along fine:)
I spoke with social welfare today. Our social woker is going to the police station tomorrow to get a copy of the report she needs. From what I understand, she then writes a letter of discharge that I can take to the orphanage to pick her up while the attorney files for the committal order. That’s how I understand it anyway. So it’s very possible that I could get the call tomorrow to go and get her. If not then maybe Thursday.
I’m very excited. Evolet seems excited and Josie…doesn’t really understand what’s going on but is happy when I tell her she’ll have someone to play with for the rest of her life.
There's even a small glimmer of hope that our "Keira Jane" may come back into the picture. That's a SMALL glimmer of hope and I won't elaborate, but you can pray for that situation.
Thank you all for your prayers. They are greatly appreciated!!! I have definately felt that friends across the world have been "weeping with those who weep and rejoicing with those who rejoice."
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Friday, December 2, 2011
I don't know where she gets that crazy streak...:)
So next week I have to renew my visa which means I will have been here a month. Crazy, huh? In some ways it feels like it has flown by and in some ways I feel like I've been here so long I don't even realize we're driving on the wrong side of the road anymore.
AND next week I am supposed to be able to bring Evolet and Keira to come live with me!!!! I'm so excited. I don't know which day yet. I'm praying it will be the earlier part of the week, but who knows. All I know is that the social worker told me next week. So I'm praising God for that. The courts will recess from mid-December until January. My attorney will be on vacation, but as long as the girls are here by then I don't care.
Josie has fully recovered from her nasty fall and she and I both are almost over our colds. I'm staying busy reading a good book and dreaming about spending Christmas with our girls. I miss Darren like crazy. I really really wish we could be together for the holidays, but I know this is worth it and we will both be overjoyed to be reunited as a family in a couple of months. He loves these girls as much as I do and I know he misses them. MAYBE...next week I can send out photos of them in our house here. Wouldn't that be cool:)
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
The day started out great. We made some Nutella cookies (thank you, Jennifer for the super-easy recipe)
Then we were cleaning the house and listening to Christmas songs on the computer. Like some disney princess I'm dancing with the broom and singing along. Josie's jumping on our SUPER high bed (seriously there are stairs on either side of it just to get up and down) and THEN.....she flips over the footboard and dives headfirst into the tile floor. My heart stopped. She didn't cry right away and her eyes rolled back in her head. Not a good sign.
So my EMT brain tells me that panicking never helps a patient so I pick her up and try to get her to talk to me. She's just screaming and won't say anything. I know...first rule of thumb with people who fall straight on their head is not to move them because they could have a neck injury, but I'm just gonna tell you...when you're the mother you forget things. So She still won't talk to me. I finally talk her into following commands like wiggle your fingers and toes. Her pupils look equal. She starts kicking so that's a good thing. I put some ice on her head and try to give her Advil. She normally loves the taste of medicine and doesn't want any. Everytime I pick her up I notice that her head is wobbling like a bobblehead doll. I ask her to hold her head up and she won't. That's when I grabbed the phone and called our AWESOME neighbors Louis and Miranda. They happened to be just pulling out of their driveway and came right over. So Josie and I jump in the car and we head to the hospital. About the time we get there, Josie stops crying and is all smiling at Louis like nothing happened. We see a VERY nice British doctor who orders an X-Ray. Let me just say that, holding a screaming Josie's head down on an X-ray tray is not going to go into the "favorite memory" section of my brain. But we got through it, and she didn't have a fracture. We went back into the Dr. office and Josie tried to climb on her desk. The doctor said in her high British accent, "Oh she's a busy one. I can see how she toppled!" She got a good goose-egg out of it and some M&M's though.
The guy who was supposed to give our social worker the files for the kids was MIA today. Apparently he's going in tomorrow. Bleh.
So then other little random things stressed me out throughout the day, but at the end of it I thought back on my blessings.
1. I'm thankful my daughter is ok. She's a handful, but I like having her around:)
2. I'm thankful I have an understanding husband who has listened to my complaints today and still loves me.
3. I'm thankful for friends. All my friends, but especially today, Louis and Miranda who BARELY know me, who know I'm leaving in a few months, and who have been there for me since I got here. Everything from inviting me to Thanksgiving, taking care of the bills on the house, to fixing a light bulb, to making sure I have books and movies so I don't get bored...and rushing us to the hospital. I would like to think I would be that kind of friend to new people, but I know for a fact that we have military families all the time who come through Montgomery that I don't extend that kind of friendship to. Sometimes it's easier to keep them at arms' length and not invest time in people who won't be around to reciprocate. Today was a good lesson in other-centered friendship.
4. I'm thankful to be here. I had some ladies over for lunch today and we were talking about how it is easier to do an adoption where you just sign papers and pick up your children, but you never get to know the country and the people there. They said "There are many things that we can learn from you, and many things that you will learn from us." I'm finding that to be very true, and even though I'd rather be home with my husband in my own house, I know I will look back on this time and be thankful for what God is teaching me and that I will have a better understanding of where my two new daughters are coming from. Sometimes I just have to stop looking at this as wasted time waiting for this committal order and see it as a time set aside to learn.
5. I'm thankful for the hope of heaven. It makes days like this bearable.
Monday, November 28, 2011
We put up a tree! Thanks to James and Megan, we WILL have a Christmas tree this year! They are really expensive over here so I was thinking we would just not have one, but I'm really glad we do:) Josie enjoyed helping me decorate it. We listened to Christmas music and drank hot chocolate. She was very cute.
Yesterday we tried out a Bible study at the Baptist Mission. They have childcare! Hallelujah! The kids stay in while we sing songs (which Josie likes anyway) and pray (which we're working on being quiet during) and then the kids go out with a teacher and sing songs and play on this amazing playground. I. Was. So. Thankful! I didn't know what I was going to do without a church! I have some sermons from the Resolved conference, and Tom was nice enough to e-mail me his sermon notes. I just knew that if I had to take 3 kids with me to each service, I would waste a cab fare to literally stand outside the entire time. I was ready to just make do with what I have, but it's just not the same as the community of believers. What a blessing it was to be in church again. I still really miss Morningview Baptist.
Today was Monday here. We went out to the orphanage to see the kids again. Josie isn't feeling well so we didn't stay too long. We came back and ate soup and then she took a long nap and seemed to feel better. I think she's come down with a cold or something.
I did get a hold of the orphanage director finally! What an answer to prayer! He met with Elizabeth today and is supposed to pass on the girls' files to her on Wednesday. I was kind of hoping he would do that today, but I've learned over here that the smallest amount of news is better than nothing and I just have to be thankful for that. So I think the idea of having a comittal order this week is probably not feasible, but we're getting closer and that's what matters. I truly believe that very soon Evolet and Keira will come into my care here and begin their new life. Each day it feels closer...the same kind of anticipation that comes with a childbirth. It could be any day...the sooner the better, but God already has that day appointed and we are approaching it even it feels too slow for me.
It feels like it has been much longer than 9 days since Darren left. Can I just take this opportunity to say that I never respected what our families of deployed military are going through quite as much as I do now. And really, it's only 3 months. It sounds like an eternity to me, but I have dear friends who right now are facing many more months without a spouse. Can I just remind you all to find some way to encourage them especially over the holidays?
Here are some verses that have really kept me going these last 3 weeks:
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
What a great passage. I have definately never felt weaker or stronger than I have lately. How great are the riches of Christ's grace!
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Overall I would use one word to sum up my African experience to date…HARD! Not completely bad,non-educational, or non-productive…just hard. There are some bright spots on a daily basis, though:
1. Having access to the Word. I watched the movie
Luther last night (from James and Megan’s movie collection) and was reminded
that to have the blessing of reading God’s Word in my own language is something
to be thankful for.
2. Our caretaker’s name is Limited. He’s a very nice man. Josie has gotten very comfortable with him and I love hearing her say his name because she says “Lemonhead”. Bahahaha that’ll make any bad day seem betterJ
There’s quite the assortment of animals to keep you on your toes. I had to chase a
chicken down on Saturday, we have bunnies, I’ve already stepped on a roach, and
found numerous lizzards in the bathroom. The lizzards seem to be getting bigger…I hope that’s normal.
4. The food here is actually pretty good. I was worried that I would be forced to eatsome really weird stuff. So fareverything has been tasty.
5. Josie is awesome. Terrible sometimes too, but I love talking to her about the "Yidzzards" and she gets excited when we "Pray Jesus" every night. Right now she is playing with play-dough at the table. It's fascinating to watch her mind work. I don't think I am thankful for her as much as I should be. She's pretty great.
Today was a day of blessing for sure. My attorney told me on Monday that we should
meet with Elizabeth together on Wednesday (which is today) to iron out some
things. I never heard back from him…I tried calling and e-mailing. By last
night I was furious because I knew I had to get a babysitter, but she would
need to know by last night if she was coming and what time. So I told her 9 a.m. and prayed like crazy. This morning, still livid and fed up with the entire process, I e-mailed the attorney at like 7 a.m. and told him that I had a babysitter for the day that I had already hired so we needed to meet and I needed to know what time.
Poor man calls me 5 minutes later and apologizes and says he lost his
Blackberry. Plus he got married on Saturday so…I guess he has reasons for not returning my calls. I told him I thought he was ignoring me andhe said no and that he called Elizabeth (also at 7 a.m. for which she was not happy) and set up a meeting for lunch. He said he would tell me exactly what time.
In the meantime I wanted to take advantage of having a
sitter all day so I ran some errands. I got done early so went to the social welfare office at 11. Of course, Elizabeth was not in so I told the
other social workers I would wait for her. They talked to me for a while. About
an hour later, Elizabeth calls one of the social workers I’m in the room with
who tells her that I’m there waiting on her. The social worker says, “Elizabeth says she has a few things to do and that she will tell your attorney to reschedule.” Lord, my heart CANNOT handle a reschedule!!!!! So I send up a prayer, go
outside and call Elizabeth and say “I’m at your office. I have to take a taxi every time I come down here. I have a woman staying at the house with my baby all day and the taxi says he will wait as long as I need him to. So…I’m not leaving until you meet with my attorney and me. I've got all day” (Yeah, Mama bear came out just a little) so FINALLY at 1:30 all three of us were together. I
heard the attorney walk through the door and someone pointed and told him “The
white woman is down there.” By that point they ALL knew why he was there.
It was a great meeting! The attorney is wonderful. He knew what to ask and how to interpret what Elizabeth is telling me. Apparently, Elizabeth has been trying to get
a hold of the orphanage director who is the only person who can give the OK for
her to have the files. He won’t call her back so…we’re trying to work through that.
The paperwork I filed on Friday must have been approved because Elizabeth said she was cleared to work on our case and that the only thing standing between me and a committal order is the orphanage director.
The attorney even said that if I keep going to the orphanage to see the kids, that that will be viewed as bonding with the children and that the “3 month fostering” can be dated the first time we met the kids. That would be nice!!! I believe this is still up to the judge when he wants to make that date official, but the attorney seems very confident that it will happen that way. I do feel much
more confident in our attorney after today. I think he really knows what he’s doing.
I’m going back to the orphanage on Saturday to spend time with the kids
and to meet the younger girls’ father (for various reasons I won’t say here). I’m a little nervous about that, but I guess it could be a good thing. I
AM dying to see them again. I had been staying away because I didn’t want to get attached in case something went wrong. The attorney thinks it’s better
to spend time with them and that he can work out the paperwork so…I guess I’ll
believe him! I will definitely feel better when that adoption decree is signed
and they are actually ours.
So I got back exhausted.
I literally felt like I had been in a fight. Spiritually, this has been a very rough 2 weeks, but I also can’t remember ever praying this much…so I guess sometimes
sanctification happens in the dark. Ready for the lights to come back on, please!!! I just remembered the story about the persistent widow and as I sat outside of Elizabeth’s office for hours today I
just prayed that I would be fighting for the right thing. I don’t want to come off as rude or demanding (which is the assumption about Americans anyway) or that this whole adoption is just about me, but the Bible also has a lot to say about fighting for the fatherless and justice for the poor. Today definitely felt like a fight, but I knew that God was with me and I left actually feeling like Elizabeth, the attorney, and I might possibly be wanting the same thing…to see these 2 girls adopted. Praise the Lord, it actually looks like this
might work out.
The next step is to (get a hold of the orphanage director). I’ve got three different people trying so…Attorney said he will see Elizabeth in person on Monday again if she still hasn’t made contact and we’ll go from there. I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I think legally, they can go around this man if he refuses to cooperate. Hoping he will just call her back. Maybe he lost his phone too:p
I made pumpkin bread! Thanks to Katryn, I inherited some canned pumpkin and made some
Thanksgiving food!!!! We are spending the afternoon with some American missionaries here. I really hope they have REAL thanksgiving food. I would be so excited! Hoping to skype with Darren and one or both of my sisters tomorrow! YAY!!!
Thank you all for your prayers and have a wonderful day of special thanks to the Lord for the Great things he has done!
Monday, November 21, 2011
Saturday, Josie, Katryn, and I spent the day in Kabanana where the children sponsored throught heir ministry had their Christmas party. They served lunch, sang songs, did a devotional, and opened presents! It was such a blessing to me to be a part of it all! These children are so precious. They all seemed to enjoy Josie even though she was a little grumpy from her nap-deprived afternoon.
Friday, November 18, 2011
Darren left for Home about an hour ago. Is it possible to miss him already? I know we both envisioned him leaving with some certainty and peace of mind about where this is headed, but God has other plans I guess. It would have been easier I think to see him go if I could start counting the days to when he comes back, but I really have no idea. Well, enough sad stuff.
Here's a photo we took at the orphanage the other day. This is Josie eating Nshima (think really thick sticky grits)
There's a lady at the orphanage that the kids call "Auntie Grace". She taught me how to make Nshima the other day. I burned my arm (ow). I agreed to teach her how to bake cookies so we are doing that next week. She really loves the kids there and they all love her back. Sometimes, with so much mess going on with paperwork and running from this office to the next, it's easy to forget why we came here, but when we go to the orphanage and see the kids there I'm reminded what we are fighting for. Please pray for us to keep up the good fight and look to Christ for our comfort. Thank you all!
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Dear friends and family! Thank you for your fervent
prayers! We thought we would be really bored this weekend and not be able
to accomplish much. Well, Saturday turned out to be the best day
yet! This morning, we met with a Christian lawyer here who has spent time in the U.S. and even teaches law here in Lusaka.
He is very young to be so successful. We had lunch with him to discuss how
he could help us and what his fees would be. His fees were remarkably
lower than we had even dared to guess!!! He is very well connected, but
also very ethical and honest. He understands Western culture very well as
well as “timelines” and “schedules”. We felt very blessed to have
“coincidentally” heard about him from some other missionaries yesterday.
The Lord’s providence has been clearly seen today!
So after our meeting with our lawyer, we rode with Steve and
Stephanie Allen (Missionaries who have adopted from the Kids Alive orphanage
and got the names of 3 possible children for us) to the Kids Alive Chikondi
orphanage. We had an amazing meeting with the man who runs the
orphanage and his wife. They have poured their lives into loving the
orphans in their home and it was clear that they want what is best for the
children. They felt much more at ease to talk about the children’s
histories after speaking with us. They expressed that when Stephanie
first told them that they knew some Americans looking for children to adopt
that they felt resistant as these children are like family to them.
However, they said that they know the children need to be in families and that
they were encouraged to know that we are Christians and would raise them in a Christian home. There are about 12 children who live with them right
now. The three we are most interested in are a 4 year old girl, a 3 year old boy, and a 3 year old girl. The first 2 were abandoned at birth and would
be very easy to adopt. The youngest's father came to visit her once when she was
about 5 months old so we may encounter some resistance from social welfare with
her. The youngest was very friendly and we feel like we would like to pursue
both girls, but if the youngest is not available we will take that as a sign from
the Lord that the boy was meant to be in our family and we will go on a massive
shopping trip for boys’ clothing:)
Here are some specific things that you can continue to pray
1. That our social worker would be able to meet with the director of the orphanage on
Monday. She has to get the children’s files from him.
2. That our lawyer would be able to speed things up for us in the paperwork
department. We would be especially happy if we could have a committal
order before Darren leaves although that would be quite a miracle.
3. That it would be clear which two children were meant to be in our family.
4. That Josie would do well adjusting to this new culture, lifestyle, siblings.
-Darren, Jacky, and Josie
Friday, November 11, 2011
We have backyard chickens!!! It's been nice to have fresh eggs. We also have bunnies, a swimming poo,l and a trampoline where Josie likes to go "mumping". We are very thankful for the blessing of being able to rent this house. It has been great.
In adoption news, there are two girls at an orphanage in the city that are 4 and 2 (or 3.. not sure). We have not been able to meet them yet, but have seen their photos and man, are they cute!!! We have requested that social welfare review their files to ensure that they are adoptable and if they are we would be able to meet them. Our social worker is going to speak to the director of the orphanage on Monday so we are praying that that meeting goes well and that if these are our girls we could meet them soon. We are hoping to meet with an attorney who was recommended by some missionaries here. It is Saturday here, but he was willing to meet today so we are hoping that goes well. He could really help us alot with filing paperwork and moving things along. I have a feeling it is going to be a long weekend waiting for Monday.
So I got attacked by a SWARM of flies the first time I used the kitchen. I learned very quickly to leave the door closed when cooking even though it is so hot here we normally leave them open for air flow. These are not just your normal run-o-the mill lazy, annoying, flies either. Folks, these African flies are vicious!!! They go straight for your head and buzz around like they're on steroids!
We saw a giraffe in a crate going down the road the other day. That was pretty cool! I would actually love a pet giraffe to go with our chickens, bunnies, and flies.
It's hard to believe that Darren is leaving next weekend. In some ways, the past five business days have gone by so fast and then in other ways it seems like we have been here longer. We thank you all for your continued prayers. We know that we serve a mighty God who holds the world in existence by "the power of His word". We know that that same God cares for us and is a comfort to us in our struggles. Pray that things would work out smoothly and that the aching of our hearts would be comforted by meeting our children, but also that we could "count it all joy when [we] encounter various trials."
Thursday, November 10, 2011
I know I haven't posted any pictures of us yet, but it seriously took this one like 20 minutes to load...and it's my favorite!
We're kind of having a difficult day. Everyday we think we've made some progress and then we get told something different from Social Welfare. It's a bit frustrating, but I still feel like this is where we are meant to be. Please pray for us alot. There's been another "hangup" and the children we thought we'd get to meet today have to be cleared by someone other than the person we were told at first so...AHHHHHH! "That's all I have to say about that."
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
God has repeatedly demonstrated His leading and goodness to us in our journey here. The drive to Atlanta was uneventful, but we are extremely grateful for Ben Robinson’s help in getting us there. It was quite a scene as a convoy of 3 people, luggage, a stroller and a baby made their way through the check-in line. God even allowed us to have a friendly gate agent as we checked our 9 bags plus the stroller and carry-on. The person in line next to us was denied access to the flight due to visa problems and the person in the opposite line was charged an extra $60 for 2nd bag. Yet our 9 bags were all accepted without fees or hassle.
Thank you for your prayers for our travel with an overactive almost-two-year-old. Josie actually did very well on both flights. She slept the majority of both flights in the seat between us. At the London airport they had a small play area for kids so that helped keep her entertained during our 9-hour layover.
We made it through Zambian customs without any problems. The initial British Airways gate agent told us that it would be $150/person for our visas. However, when we got here, it was only $50/person and Josie was free. The visa is only good for 30-days, but can be renewed for free. There remains some question as to whether a tourist visa expires and is able to be renewed after 90 days. Others have assured us that it will not be a problem, but please pray that the adoption would be completed and that we wouldn’t have to find out.
All of our 9 bags made it through and we met James Williamson who drove us to our lodge (bed-and-breakfast style guest-house). We are staying here until Thursday when the Williamsons’ return to the US. After a shower (finally!), and a little unpacking Megan Williamson drove us around town showing us some of important locations. We won’t have a car, so any travel we do will either be by taxi or walking. Thankfully, there are two small shopping centers within walking distance (about ¾ mile). We already see God’s provision in this location. Other friends we know who have adopted from Zambia have not been within walking distance to anything, so we are grateful to save on many of the taxi fares. For those of you who have not read Jacky’s blog (www.heartacrossthewater.blogspot.com) we received a free double-stroller prior to coming. This has already been a blessing as we had initially intended to bring one of the cheap folding strollers. That never would have withstood the thousands of rocks and potholes that line the edges of the roads we walk. However, we are praying for this stroller to survive until we can return home.
Our first stop with Megan was the Social Welfare office downtown. Elizabeth, the social worker we will be interacting with, was supposed to meet us. However, in common Zambian fashion, she wasn’t in her office. After a brief phone call, she agreed to meet us later that afternoon. The other social worker told us that we should go to the orphanage and they would tell us which children were available to adopt.
While waiting, we drove to the orphanage where we hope to soon meet our daughters. The orphanage is divided into three sections; House of Moses (kids under 2), Bill and Bette House (Kids 2-5), and a house for kids over 5. At the Bill and Bette house the kids were in their preschool class, but we were able to briefly step inside the classroom and see them. I think there were about 15 in the class. One little boy and girl were especially affectionate as they ran up to Jacky and me wanting to be held. Josie was a little concerned about mom and dad suddenly holding two other kids, but as we walked away, was already asking, “Play Kids?”. Hopefully we’ll be back soon. The head of the orphanage told us that Social Welfare would be the ones to give us a list of children available for adoption. She was not able to release any information. So the run-around began.
We headed back to Social Welfare through the chaotic driving scene. Elizabeth was there this time. She accepted a copy of our home study and told us she would contact us. We talked for about 5 minutes and left praying and knowing that our God is powerful over the hearts of men and social workers with African time schedules. We have not yet heard back from her. Please earnestly pray that she would contact us soon and so that we can get this process started. Also pray for wisdom for us how much to continue to prompt her without overstepping cultural boundaries.
James and Megan had us over for dinner last night where we tried some of the local flavors. Mealy-meal (think of grits as thick as play-dough) and peanut butter chicken are both common foods and both good to eat. They have a very nice family and of been so helpful to us in many ways. We are continually grateful to God for his timing in bringing us together.
They have a very nice house by Zambian standards. Although there will be adjustments to our normal life in Alabama, we really are blessed with our living situation. They have a full-time night watchman for security, so we feel very safe as we are surrounded by an 8ft wall with an electric fence above it. This is very common in Zambia. There is no air-conditioning here so it is quite hot here in the afternoon. The climate seems to be similar to Alabama in late May- Upper 80’s and humid. The rainy season will be starting soon which means that the temperatures and humidity will climb as they head into their summer (southern hemisphere). We will not have internet in the house, but there is an internet café at one of the nearby shopping centers, so Jacky will probably be able to connect there a few times a week. We did purchase a local cell phone. Phones here receive incoming calls for free. If you want to, you can call us. Our number is 260-097-615-8523. African calling cards can be purchased inexpensively at local stores in the U.S. I know that our Money Store’s sell a card that can call here for 3 hours for $10.
We are already thankful for our Steri-pen that we brought. We debated whether or not to bring one, but have already used it countless times to purify our tap water and not have to buy bottled water. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Steri-pen uses ultraviolet light to kill 99.99999% of bacteria and viruses. It takes about a minute to purify a liter of water with no chemicals or filters.
The jet lag kicked in last night as we were awake with a little girl wanting to jump on our bed at 3:00am. It didn’t really matter too much because Jacky and I were awake too. Hopefully tonight we’ll sleep a little better.
Today we spent the majority of the day traveling around the Kabanana compound with Katryn Belke, another missionary from New York who lives on James and Megan’s property. We were told what we experienced today was a lot closer to the “real Zambia”. Kabanana is a very poor area of town where the majority of people live in extreme poverty. The scenes reminded me of my time in a South African village, so again I was thankful for how God had already prepared us for this trip. The work that Katryn and the Williamsons do in the midst of the people of Kabanana is very special. They partner with a local church plant from Kwabata Baptist Church (Conrad Mbewe) to identify kids and single-parent families that have the greatest needs. They then work with these people on an almost daily basis to provide food, school, evangelism, Biblical training and work opportunities. The needs are overwhelming and my words and pictures will not adequately describe the scene that can only be experienced. One of the stops today was to visit the little store that they had helped a local man start. It was a tiny 8x8ft room built onto the side of his house, but it provided him a way to sell a few necessities and buy food for his family. With obvious joy, Katryn shared about how the pastor had baptized several new believers last Sunday whose lives had drastically changed from lives of crime and violence as a result of their ministry. I am both humbled and ashamed as I see the devotion she and others have to the ministry here. She lives on a tiny amount of money she receives from relatives and uses her personal savings and a few random donations to continue the work. There is a big need for additional people to step forward and provide funding to support a child ($35/month) and also to support their ministry in general. It seems like a much better and biblically grounded option than some of the other ministries where money is given monthly, but there is little contact with the recipient. Here, the kids are held accountable, connected with a biblical church and Katryn takes the time to update donors with specific prayer requests on a weekly basis.
This afternoon we visited both of the nearby shopping centers just to map out the walking route and purchase some milk and juice for Josie. The ridiculous British security felt that despite the fact that we had already been through U.S. security and never left the secure area, the juice we brought for Josie was somehow a security threat, so they confiscated it. Guess two parents and a baby really do look like terrorists.
Well time to wrap up this addition of “War and Peace”. I’ll write another lengthy novel at a later time.
Please pray earnestly that all the paperwork would be completed in the next ten days.